Academic journal article Education Research International

Beyond Bullying: Consideration of Additional Research for the Assessment and Prevention of Potential Rampage School Violence in the United States

Academic journal article Education Research International

Beyond Bullying: Consideration of Additional Research for the Assessment and Prevention of Potential Rampage School Violence in the United States

Article excerpt

Academic Editor:David Neumann

1, Department of Curricular and Instructional Studies, The University of Akron, 132 Zook Hall, Akron, OH 44325-4205, USA

Received 14 April 2014; Revised 28 July 2014; Accepted 19 August 2014; 28 August 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Beyond Bullying: Additional Considerations in Rampage School Violence

While modern schools had long been considered to be places of relative safety, this sense of security was dispelled in the late 1990s when a series of rampage shootings occurred in the United States [1, 2]. Most of these rampage shootings involved youth as perpetrators and children, adolescents, and educators as victims. As a response to these incidences, there are numerous articles and recommendations that have been put forward by educators, psychologists, sociologists, law enforcement, and legislators. Immediately following an incident, the media also offer analyses and suggestions from any number of perspectives.

Among the initial responses to these rampage acts of violence and shootings were environmental changes such as increased security and attempts to remove potential perpetrators through disciplinary measures. The presence of security guards, locked buildings, and shooter drills have become commonplace in today's schools. Disciplinary policies such as zero tolerance for even the most minor indicator of aggressive intent have been developed and implemented [1, 3, 4]. While these environmental and disciplinary changes may have averted some incidences, rampage acts of violence or shootings have continued suggesting the need for additional strategies. It is noted that the rampage aggression primarily involved shootings; however, an incident on April 9, 2014, involved the use of a kitchen knife [5]. Therefore, it is more appropriate to refer to rampage school violence rather than limit the term to "shooting" or "shootings."

Interpersonal dynamics such as bullying were also examined in an effort to gain insight into the rationale of the perpetrators. Levin and Madfis [4] found that the majority of the shooters had experienced bullying and had been ostracized by their peers prior to the rampage shooting; however, there were also other sources of chronic and acute strain in their lives. This strain came from sources outside of the school setting such as within the family. Levin and Madfis [4] also point out that it takes a very long time for a student to build up to the point of acting out in such a violent manner and early identification may be efficacious for prevention as well as the development of increased prosocial skills.

As these incidences have unfolded, increased and holistic consideration of additional variables outside of the educational setting has been pursued. While Levin and Madfis [4] note the role that chronic strain from a variety of sources may contribute to these incidences, there are additional models and theories not directly related to rampage shootings and violence that are also worth exploring. These theories and methods of intervention were not necessarily developed as a response to rampage school violence. For example, attachment dynamics, sensitivity to rejection, and the individual's perception of past, present, and future events may also provide insight into the dynamics leading up to rampage violence [6, 7]. The influence of social learning theory and group dynamics as it relates to technology should also be considered [8, 9]. Prevention and intervention strategies such as Response to Intervention [10] and Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports [11] for academic and other behavior problems are currently already established in the educational setting. Bringing together explanations from research outside of education and already established educational strategies may prove to be an innovative and positive method for intervention. …

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